How to fix Web pages that print too small

Reader Tammy wrote in with this hassle:

"Whenever I try to print a page from the Internet, the size of the print and the photos is extremely small and difficult to read. I do not have this problem with Word documents."

Tammy says she uses Windows 8, but neglected to specify which browser--so I'm going to assume Internet Explorer.

Let me be the first to note that Internet Explorer can be terrible when it comes to printing. On my Windows 8 system, for example, I went to any number of pages on Microsoft's MSN (the default site for IE), then loaded Print Preview. The result every single time: several pages of little more than links, with none of the actual text of the story I was viewing.

But that's not Tammy's issue. (It's Microsoft's. And it's ridiculous.) When printed Web pages come out too small, the likely culprit is the Shrink to Fit option, which Internet Explorer uses by default to try to squeeze all the elements of a Web page onto a sheet of paper--often at the expense of proper sizing.

Thankfully, it's easy enough to fix. Here's how:

1. In Internet Explorer, while viewing the page you want to print, click the little gear icon in the upper-right corner, then choose Print, Print Preview.

2. In the preview window that appears, notice that in the toolbar's print-size selector, the default setting is Shrink to Fit. Click that pull-down and choose 100%.

3. Now you should see bigger text and photos. If everything looks good, go ahead and click the printer icon to proceed with printing. If not, click the selector again and choose a different zoom setting.

It's worth noting that your printer drivers might be a factor here as well. If you press Ctrl-P and access the printer's properties/settings, you can look for a zoom setting that might be overriding the browser's settings.

You may also want to look for a Print or "printer-friendly" option on the page you're viewing, which will usually strip away the extraneous graphics, ads, and whatnot that can fudge up the formatting (and cause smaller-than-desirable print).

Finally, if you're a Chrome user, check out the Print Friendly extension, which gives you much greater control over all the Web pages you print.

Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at hasslefree@pcworld.com, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PCWorld ForumsSign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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